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I've liked, but not loved, the Corcoran for a long time. Their collection was eclectic, but not shaped to one person's/family's taste as the Phillips is (the Phillips is becoming less this way, but it still feels coherent to me). It was also part of a legacy endowment with a fantastic building in a wonderful location. A few years ago, before the crash of 2008, they were trying to expand into my neighborhood by moving their College of Art to an old school building near me which would have freed space in the main building for more art works. They sold that school to a private developer (and there's a great deal of debate over whether they were allowed to since they'd gotten a sweetheart deal on city land) in order to boost their coffers once the crash happened. About a decade prior to that, they'd commissioned a Frank Gehry extension to the original building that failed to raise enough money and/or flunked the zoning and Commission of Fine Arts Review -- which is important since the original building is a) listed on the historic register and b) two blocks from the White House.

Other solutions were presented to the Corcoran's problems, including moving the collection to Virginia and turning the historically registered building into condos. Those of us who paid membership fees for the Corcoran protested that mightily for a wide variety of reasons. Then there were rumors, which I've seen both confirmed and denied by the parties involved, that the University of Maryland was going to take over the collection and the building. Instead, in a last minute move, the National Gallery of Art has taken over the building and the collection in collaboration with George Washington University which is taking over the school and will get some of the collection somehow.

Some of the process of integrating the collections was covered in an article in The New York Times today.

One thing that struck me as odd is that there are people who think the National Gallery has a lot of American Art. It has some, but the major collection of American Art is at the Smithsonian.

UPDATED with the proposed ghastlyGehry extension.

fabrisse: (Persephone)
An artist by the name of Jake Chapman was quoted in The Independent as saying children shouldn't be taken to art galleries because they can't appreciate the point the artist is trying to make.

Yes, I'm screaming. I loved going to art museums when I was a kid. One of my most visceral memories is of seeing Winged Victory (Nike of Samothrace) for the first time when I was seven. I would beg to be allowed to go to the National Gallery or the Portrait Gallery after church when we moved back to DC, and, from the time I was ten, my parents would let me go on my own.

Field trips to The Phillips Collection or the Corcoran were high points of my school year.

And then there was the tutoring when I grew up. One of the things I had the hardest time with, both in DC and Boston, was encouraging the students to develop their own tastes. Especially in DC, the students were hesitant to voice an opinion because they were afraid either of being "wrong" (in quotes because, while bad taste exists, it's still a personal taste and therefore can't be wrong) or of disagreeing with an adult.

And yet, some of the best times I've ever had have been with preteens at a museum. There was the girl next door who had a hard time keeping her hands off the Babylonian art and tried to touch the Van Gogh's. She didn't care for Egyptian art at all and thought Monet was a little dull (for the record, I like Monet better than Van Gogh and prefer Egyptian to Babylonian, but her enthusiasm was infectious.). The group I took to the National Gallery was fascinated by the Venetian paintings and had some very pointed comments about a nude that we passed. Some loved still lifes, others thought the carved table was the bomb (their word, not mine), and all of them adored Villareal's Multiverse installation.

How can anyone say that kids can't enjoy art? Worse, how can anyone say that a child isn't human yet?

Villareal's Multiverse (it's a little sped up)

Fun Things

Jul. 20th, 2009 11:55 pm
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In my last two weeks before full employment, I'm catching up on little things like laundry and museum visits.

It's actually been a little while since I've been to the West Wing of the National Gallery. It's summertime; the tourons are out in full force. But today I realized there were a couple of exhibits I hadn't seen yet, so I headed on over -- after getting a celebratory sundae at Giffords (they're half price on Mondays).

The Spanish Armor one is probably fascinating for people who know more about armor or more about Spain than I do. Usually, I'd have concentrated on learning new stuff, but so much of it revolves around Charles V.

Now, he is responsible for one of my all time favorite quotes: "He who speaks another language, possesses another soul." However, he's also made the Grand' Place run red with blood, left Brugge to silt up because he didn't like the idea of a free city within his domain, and introduced the Inquisition to parts of Europe it hadn't had access to before. It's hard for me to admire his possessions. It was nice to see a complete Golden Fleece necklace. I'd only ever seen them in paintings before.

They've rehung several rooms and added some new artworks in the American section. Still no Rubens Peale with Geranium though. It needs to come back soon.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a movie in the morning, getting my hair cut, and, I hope, going to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art for their weekly drawing time. I haven't done it before, but they pull an item out of the collection and set it down somewhere for two hours giving amateur artists a chance to sketch it. They never announce what it will be, so it's an adventure.

Wednesday, I get to call Massachusetts DUA to see about my last couple of checks. When I filed on Sunday, I got a message to contact them. I'd be surprised but not shocked if they know about the new job. I still need to make my August rent before I start it, though. Apparently, I can only call on Wednesday or Friday because of my social security number.
fabrisse: (Default)
I have found myself fascinated by the Peale family.

When I returned to the US (twenty years ago yesterday), I was in Boston. It took me two years to have an opportunity to come and visit DC, and I went straight to the National Gallery of Art. While I was there, I found a portrait that I didn't remember -- I've since discovered that it was purchased in 1985, so I couldn't remember it -- of Rubens Peale painted by his brother Rembrandt Peale.

Now, I knew Rembrandt Peale was a famous artist, but this is the first picture of his that I remembered. I love the fact that Rubens has a pair of glasses in his hand and the ones he's wearing are for close work. A couple of months ago I went on one of the tours at the National Gallery and found out that Peale family legend maintains "Uncle Rubens" wasn't wearing the close work pair originally. No one in the family thought he looked right without his glasses on, so Rembrandt added the second pair later.

The first time I saw it I stood smiling at it for nearly ten minutes. I'm convinced I can see how much Rembrandt loved his brother. I've learned things about it, like the glasses story, and did you know it's one of the earliest representations of a geranium in art? Every time I went to the National Gallery, I looked at it.

I couldn't find it today. It's been taken off public display!

In the meantime, I found out that Rubens was a painter in his own right, although he's more famous for his scientific drawings of nature. Apparently his work is comparable to, and, in some cases, predates Audobon. I've also found out their brothers, Raphaelle and Titian (what, there weren't any more painters whose names began with "R"?), were excellent painters as well.
Pictures Behind the Cut. )


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